I must admit: I find it funny that, in this day and age, some business owners are questioning if they need a website.
I’ve been having this discussion with entrepreneurs since the only way to access the Internet was with a dial-up modem using AOL and Prodigy. Yes, I have been doing this a long time.
Back in the day, people weren’t sure if the Internet was going to stick around or just be a fad. Well, I think the verdict is in on this by now: No, the Internet is not just a fad.
I’ll often hear, “But I already have a Facebook page,” or “I have a Google My Business page. Why do I need a website?” While those are great (and arguably necessary) tools, they do not replace the need for and benefit of having a real website, your own virtual address. In fact, one of the purposes of an active social media presence is to drive people to your website.
Before we dive into my 9 reasons for having your own site, there’s something I need to make sure you understand:
- You should NOT assume your customers think like you think.
- You should NOT assume your customers shop like you shop.
- You should NOT assume your customers need what you need.
Consumer shopping habits aren’t what they used to be. And they’re changing fast. Millennials have the most spending power of any generation ever. Along with Gen Zs, millennials are what we refer to as “digital natives.” They expect the companies they do business with to not only have a website but to have a site optimized for mobile viewing.
This is why, among other things, having your own website to tell your story the way you want it to be told to the customers you serve is 100% necessary for business in 2019 and beyond — especially for small businesses.
9 Reasons Why Small Businesses Can’t Thrive Without a Website in 2019
1. Customers expect it.
If this were the only reason on the list, it would be enough. The vast majority of consumers expect to find the companies they do business with — or want to do business with — online. Without a website, you’re giving potential customers motivation to seek out your competition.
Most consumers today consider businesses without websites to be less than trustworthy. Don’t you want potential customers to trust you and know where to find you?
In short, having your own website gives your business legitimacy and primacy over competitors.
2. Control your story and image.
Whether you DIY the site or hire web designers to create it for you, the end result is 100% yours. You own your website. You shape your narrative. You call the shots.
That means it’s up to you to decide on design, content and goals — things like:
- What do you want potential customers to experience on your site?
- What message and branding do you want to be known for?
- How do you want people to contact you?
- What is the overall goal of the site?
By relying on your Facebook page or Google My Business page, you are restricted by their content policies. Exactly how you say what you want to say may not be an option if you’re using platforms like these.
You also don’t get much customization in the look, feel and experience of your content if you’re only using a social media page. You essentially relinquish control of your brand to them.
Another reason why you shouldn’t rely on these platforms? If they ever discontinue their free service, change their algorithms or their policies, you’re presence is compromised. And that could wreck your business.
3. It’s cost-effective marketing.
A website is the most cost-effective marketing tool you can use. Sure, you can buy ads, use direct mail or throw events. But not for less than a website will cost in the long run.
That’s because you can be just a click away from thousands of consumers looking for someone to provide a certain product or service, thanks to search engines.
You’re familiar with search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. You probably use them every single day. And so does most everyone else. In fact, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second per day.
And the majority of consumers search for a local business online regularly, with 7 out of 10 people searching at least once per month. Not to mention, only 8% of people never search online for local businesses.
To drive the point home? More consumers are using mobile devices than ever, so it’s much easier for people to conduct a local search — hyperlocal, even — and find you, which can drastically increase leads and sales.
That’s all within reach if you have your own site that can be found via search engines.
4. Your competitors all have websites.
Speaking of search, try looking your competitors up. Chances are, they’ve got a website. Even if it’s not perfect, they’ve got an edge on you because potential customers can find them, can contact them, can purchase from them.
So you want to make sure you’re communicating to those people who you want to become customers. Give them a reason why you’re the obvious choice.
- Why should consumers choose you over someone else?
- What makes your products or services better than those of your competitors?
- Forget features. What are the benefits you provide?
When looking for new products or services, over 70% of consumers start their research online. If you are not a resource for them, your competitors will be.
5. The Internet is always open, never closed.
The Internet never closes. Your website is open 24/7, ready to greet and educate customers when it is convenient for them.
Even if your target audience is local, within the same timezone, consumers today are looking for convenience. If they want to contact you — fill out an online form, email you, get your phone number — they should be able to find that information whenever they’re ready to look for it.
A great website is the best salesperson you’ll ever have.
If they want to conduct research about a particular product or service you offer, they should be able to locate your information at any time.
As long as you keep your site updated with the latest information and make edits to streamline the user experience consistently, you can sit back and let your website do the selling — even while you’re asleep.
Like I always say, “A great website is the best salesperson you’ll ever have!”
6. Showcase your products and services.
For those with a brick-and-mortar store, you know that when a potential customer comes in, you’ve got a routine you go through to educate them about your products and services.
Maybe that means a walk-through if you have a showroom. Or maybe you have a spiel you run through about everything you do. It’s possible you’ve got some brochures or flyers you hand out, too.
Well, as I’ve already mentioned, a good website can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Even before they set foot in your store.
Need an explanation of the features and benefits of your products and services? Create a unique, visually appealing page for each of them on your site.
Need a showroom? Have images and videos that bring your products or services to life and capture potential customers’ attention.
By highlighting your products and services, you can really craft your brand and message, helping you stand out from your competitors. But it also helps educate anyone who is considering you as an option to meet their needs and wants.
So go ahead and show how you’ve got the solutions to their problems with a website for your small business. This can include images, video and PDF downloads, but there are many more ways you can connect with consumers across your website.
7. Compete with the big dogs.
A well-built, well-optimized website can help you go toe-to-toe with large national companies and achieve top page rankings.
With some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) <PUT LINK TO MMD SERVICE>, you can make your content easily accessible on Google, Bing and Yahoo — for example, targeting specific keywords you know your audience is searching for — and differentiate yourself from the big competitors.
More and more consumers today understand that when they buy local, rather than national, the money they spend is more likely to stay local, which helps bolster the community. You can take advantage of this shift in consumer behavior by targeting specific locales and areas with your onsite keywords.
No, you may not be at the level of Amazon or Starbucks. But by putting together a sturdy, savvy site, you can sustain and grow your business as you attract the customers you wish to have.
8. People use the Internet like they used to use the phonebook.
Maybe you remember the old way of finding a business to suit your needs. Flipping through the thick phonebook, hoping to stumble on a business you could trust to meet your needs.
Those days are over, but what has replaced phonebooks — the Internet, and more specifically search engines — accomplishes a similar purpose. Albeit in a different, more targeted way.
How do people find you online? They search for something like business type / product / service + city.
An example? Pizza restaurant in Toledo. Inputting this phrase, made up of keywords, into a search engine will scour all indexed sites lightning-quick to provide a list of matches to the searcher. If you’re a pizza restaurant in Toledo and you’ve got a website, there’s a decent chance you might be the first thing someone sees. Especially if you’ve got SEO in place.
Near me is another phrase people will often type in addition to the product or service they’re looking for. This tells Google to use the location of the searcher to find matches within the area.
You can see why, in the age of mobile search, this is especially important. Someone who would benefit from your product or service is looking up who in their area can provide a solution. Are you there to meet them with an optimized website?
9. No website means losing business.
Local search has changed the consumer landscape . Consumers often look up a business online before they decide to do business with them. It’s where they start their shopping research and where they find who you are, where you’re located, when you’re open and what services you provide.
Not having a website means you are missing out the opportunity to connect with those consumers. How else are they going to know to do business with you?
All this said, a bad website is worse than no website. But both are bad for business. One drives potential customers away, while one completely misses them in the first place.
So whether you’re looking to revamp your current site or looking to begin the initial development of your online presence, Mass Media Designs would love to help. Keep in mind that your website represents your business. And our business is connecting you with potential customers.